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Looking for cooking inspiration? More home cooks are turning to TikTok

UPDATED: Wed., March 9, 2022

Green goddess dressing is a popular TikTok recipe that’s used on everything from salads to chips.  (Joy Summers/Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Green goddess dressing is a popular TikTok recipe that’s used on everything from salads to chips. (Joy Summers/Minneapolis Star Tribune)
By Joy Summers (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

TikTok is filled with easy recipe hacks that can change the way you cook – for the better. What’s one thing you’ve recently learned that forever changed the way you do an everyday task?

For me, it was that an egg and some chili crisp can transform packaged ramen into a meal that costs next to nothing. Or that a block of feta cheese and some cherry tomatoes thrown in the oven could make for a rich and unbelievably easy weeknight meal.

And I’ve even been opening pickle jars wrong all these years (turn it over and wedge a butter knife in the cap to break the seal). There is a seemingly endless stream of new and easier ways to navigate the kitchen on TikTok, the video app sensation that boasts more than 1 billion users worldwide.

Those familiar with TikTok know that like its social media counterparts, the entertaining content can easily occupy a person for hours. The app curates short videos with surprisingly accurate algorithms and offers up niche interests you didn’t even know you had. Videos range from 7 seconds to a maximum of 10 minutes.

It’s not a lot of time to grab your attention, yet the platform’s diverse and constant streams of funny, relatable and outrageous snippets do just that.

While there are plenty of funny food videos, the sheer number of new recipes is incredible, from easy-to-re-create weeknight meals to master classes in bread baking with a cultivated sourdough starter. Some have links to the recipes, others you’ll have to glean from the videos. Your efforts will often be rewarded.

Discover tortillas being folded into quarters for a revolutionary twist on quesadillas, and watch a self-described pickle sommelier talk about the ways that brine can elevate a humble vegetable. Or travel the world through plates and baskets of ingredients, watch a street vendor make arepas or a home cook turn out crusty, golden tahdig with all the drama and anticipation of a Hollywood thriller.

What makes TikTok so engaging is that the videos are just as diverse as their creators. Everyday people have easy access to their 15 minutes of fame. In this world, a pug named Noodle can predict the kind of day you’ll have. Or a professional chef will lament their day while showing you how to make instant soup at home. There are communities built for crafting, foraging, hiking, travel, dance and cooking.

The food videos include helpful hints, or hacks, to revolutionize a few easy meals or snacks. Upgrade your ramen, make a hot sauce powder to kick up boring popcorn, or make a one-dish pasta sensation that is as gorgeous as it is tasty.

It’s fun, fast, informative, and just a little addicting. Here are a few inspired ways to up your cooking game if you can put down the phone long enough to make them.

TikTok tips

As a video app it’s optimized for smartphone use, but it works just as well on a computer (go to tiktok.com). No need to create (another) user account; you can use your Google email and password or log in through your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Apple accounts. You can also browse and search TikTok without signing in.

Like a video? Tap the heart. Don’t like it? Scroll past it, and the algorithm logs it. From music to niche community interests, TikTok’s “for you page,” which suggests people to follow, is often a gateway to endless entertainment and inspiration.

The videos have gotten so popular that Facebook and Instagram have jumped into the fray with their “reels,” which are often the same as TikTok’s, but without the agility to log your interests and personalized video streams.

Who to follow

Want fun food content? These users deliver:

@cookingbomb: Start local with Twin Cities content creator Vivian Aronson, a China-born cook specializing in Asian cuisine. For those who want to follow her the old-fashioned way, she just published a cookbook, too: “Asian Market Cookbook: How to Find Superior Ingredients to Elevate Your Asian Home Cooking.”

@chefjonkung: Jon Kung calls themselves a “third culture cook” whose instructional cooking videos rocketed the Detroit chef to fame during the pandemic. Their 1.5 million followers relate to their cross-cultural recipes and variations on classic dishes.

@hebrideanbaker: Coinneach MacLeod is the Hebridean Baker who focuses on small bakes and all things Scottish. He just released his debut cookbook, “The Hebridean Baker: Recipes & Wee Stories From the Scottish Islands.”

@abir.sag: Lebanese lifestyle and food vlogger Abir Saghir is known for her fashion sense as well as her international approach to cooking. With nearly 10 million followers, her mesmerizing videos have struck a chord; she ends videos by garnishing dishes with a flag from its country of origin.

Hot sauce powder

An easy way to transform your favorite hot sauce into something perfect for zipping up dishes that won’t do well with sogginess. For me, it was also a new way to use up the gallon of Crybaby Craig’s I’ve got hogging up room in my fridge. Try this dusted over crispy potatoes, chicken tenders or popcorn. Inspired by TikTok user @bigeats.world.

Ingredients

1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Cry Baby Craig’s

Directions

Preheat an oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the hot sauce on the parchment in a thin, even layer. Bake for 4 or 5 hours, or until it’s completely dry. Remove from the oven and let it cool before placing the dried sauce in a blender and pulsing into powder. Store in an airtight container.

Green goddess dressing

Makes approximately 1 cup. For some reason, TikTok creators only eat salads on corn tortilla chips. It might be because of @BakedbyMelissa. Her recipe for green goddess dressing drenched cabbage salad went viral, and suddenly everyone was scooping up huge bites of vibrant green, creamy goodness for an extreme close-up. Use this dressing on anything – salad or as a dip on its own.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic

1 small shallot, root end trimmed off

Juice of two lemons

2 green onions, green parts only

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

4 walnuts, shelled

4 raw cashews

1/4 cup basil leaves

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 fresh jalapeño, chopped, optional

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Serve over salad or as a dip for raw veggies or tortilla chips. Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Famous feta pasta

Yield: 6 servings

This was one of the first recipes that moved beyond TikTok to become inescapable on all social media channels. The genius of baking cheese and tomatoes together for a creamy sauce is credited to Finnish creator @Liemessa. Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and a few aromatics bake in the oven for an incredibly easy and deeply satisfying dinner.

Ingredients

2 pints (20 ounces) cherry or grape tomatoes

1 shallot, sliced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese, drained

10 ounces (about 3/4 of a box) short pasta, such as rotini or cavatappi

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. In a 3-quart casserole dish, toss the cherry tomatoes and shallot with olive oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Nestle feta into the center of the tomatoes. Bake until the tomatoes blister and the cheese gets a golden crust, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and add the pasta. Cook according to the package’s directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

When the tomatoes and feta come out of the oven, immediately add the red pepper flakes, if using, and grated garlic cloves. Smoosh and stir the feta and tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon so that it forms a sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of the pasta water. Stir.

Toss the pasta with sauce, adding more pasta water if it appears dry. Season with more salt to taste. Garnish and serve with the fresh basil.

French-style drinking chocolate

Yield: 1 serving

A vegan chocolate beverage is for all occasions. Those who can’t do the dairy will be absolutely thrilled to have a decadent drink, and milk lovers won’t miss the creaminess at all. Inspired by TikTok user @wholesomehedonista, who posts gluten- and dairy-free recipes.

Ingredients

1 (3.5-4 ounces) bar high-quality chocolate, 60% to 70% cacao

1/4 cup coconut cream

3/4 cup oat milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup, or to taste

1 tablespoon strong-brewed coffee, optional

Sprinkle of Maldon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted. Serve immediately.

Ramen hack

Serves 1.

This hack has quickly become a go-to in our house, a meal my 12-year-old has mastered. Use your favorite packaged ramen, or use this as an excuse to check out the multitude of options inside metro-area Asian markets. Once the technique is mastered, alter at will. Toss in leftover chicken or sausage, add sautéed mushrooms or a tart-hot shot of kimchi. Personalization options are endless and it can easily be assembled in a kitchen – or a dorm room – for pennies.

Ingredients

1 package ramen (such as Sapporo Ichiban)

1 egg

1 tablespoon mayo, preferably Kewpie

1 teaspoon chili crisp (Zen Box Izakaya sells a stellar version)

Directions

Boil noodles according to package instructions. While noodles cook, crack an egg into a soup bowl. Add mayo chili crisp, and ramen flavor package. Whisk to combine.

When noodles are cooked to desired doneness, grab a bunch with a pair of tongs and plunge into the bowl with the sauce mixture. Stir vigorously to combine. Repeat until all the noodles have been added to the bowl. Pour in 1/4 cup warm water to make a broth; stir again to combine, and enjoy.

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